Turkey delivers drones to UAE as Gulf states seek to counter Iran – Middle East Monitor
Turkiye has sold and delivered drones to the United Arab Emirates, eight months after Ankara and Abu Dhabi reconciled and restored relations, Reuters reported.
Anonymous Turkish sources confirmed that the Baykar company delivered twenty of its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the United Arab Emirates earlier this month. There is the potential to sell even more.
A senior official source said that Saudi Arabia was also aiming to buy the military drones. The kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are in negotiations with Ankara to acquire Bayraktar TB2 drones, with Riyadh wishing to set up a factory to manufacture them.
Baykar would consider the Saudi request for a production facility, but said it was a strategic decision for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make. There is also an apparent reluctance to endorse it, as Saudi investments in Turkey are not yet at the required level and “not moving as fast as possible”.
The Baykar company’s only production plant outside of Turkey is being built in Ukraine, as part of Turkey’s efforts to support Kyiv in its ongoing war against Russia.
Turkish-made drones have gained worldwide popularity thanks to their combat effectiveness in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh in recent years. A number of countries other than Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have asked to buy drone fleets from Ankara, aiming to boost their defense capabilities at a lower cost than US and European drones.
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Having signed export contracts for the Bayraktar TB2 with 22 countries so far, the company’s CEO, Haluk Bayraktar, said demand for its drones far exceeds supply. Baykar would produce twenty TB2s a month, and the CEO revealed last month that order books for these and other models are full for the next three years.
According to the senior Turkish official source quoted by Reuters“Some countries that have bought them are making additional requests. They are very happy with the results… but it is technically not possible to meet all the requests.”
However, the main reason for the Saudi and Emirati efforts to acquire the Turkish drones is believed to be to counter the security concerns of Iran and its proxy groups in the region. In particular, they want to outperform Iranian drones which are not as efficient or accurate as the Baykar models. “The Saudis and the Emirates want to counter the effectiveness of Iranian drones,” one of the sources explained. “If they get TB2, they can… stop the flow of Iranian drones.”
Such levels of defense cooperation between Turkey and the two Gulf states come months after Ankara reconciled with them and brokered numerous investment and foreign exchange reserve deals. This restoration of relations came after years of rivalry, when the Turkish government clashed with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in regional disputes and foreign policy issues.
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